New Delhi: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief and self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in prison and fined him Rs30 lakh on Monday, three days after convicting him of rape.
Judge Jagdeep Singh awarded a consecutive sentence of 10 years for each rape case. “Of the Rs30 lakh fine, Rs14 lakh each would be provided as compensation to the victims," the CBI said.
The CBI court on Friday held Singh guilty of raping two of his female followers in 2002.
Violence once again broke out in Sirsa, Haryana, where the Dera’s headquarters is located, with his followers setting two vehicles on fire on Monday, even as the Dera’s chairperson Vipassana Insan appealed for calm.
Thirty-six people were killed in police shooting, arson and rioting on Friday in Haryana’s Panchkula.
In the run-up to the sentencing, special CBI court judge Jagdeep Singh was flown by helicopter to Rohtak’s Sunaria jail where Singh had been airlifted after the verdict on Friday. Security was beefed up in and around Rohtak with the Indian Army and the central paramilitary forces shutting down the area on Sunday evening.
The judge was flown from Panchkula to Rohtak at 2.20PM on Monday, following which arguments for Singh’s sentencing began at 2.30PM.
After the judge gave each side 10 minutes to present their case, the prosecution sought life imprisonment for the defendant, while the defence argued that Singh was a social worker who should be dealt with leniently.
Singh can now file an appeal against the sentence with the Punjab and Haryana high court.
Prohibitory orders barring the assembly of five or more people had been imposed in Rohtak; the area within a 10-km radius of the jail premises had been cordoned off. The Border Security Force (BSF) set up bunkers in Sirsa and the Indian Army and Haryana police deployed their forces in Rohtak, with order to shoot lawbreakers at sight.
A multi-layer security blanket had also been imposed with the Haryana police, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) bolstering security in Haryana.
Following Friday’s rioting and arson attack by the Dera followers, the Haryana police began clearing the area from Panchkula to Rohtak, Ambala and Sirsa of sticks, stones and petrol that the Dera supporters had brought along with them ahead of Friday’s verdict.
More than 100,000 Dera supporters gathered in Panchkula ahead of Friday’s verdict. Soon after the verdict, the followers went on a rampage, damaging public property, stoning security personnel and attacking and setting ablaze media vehicles and outdoor broadcast vans.
Security in the National Capital Region centred on Delhi and including Gurugram in Haryana had been beefed up ahead of the sentencing.
“Although the situation is under control, we have ensured that there is no security lapse and citizens are safe. No Dera supporters have been allowed inside the city since Friday. People should not panic as there is no fear of any backlash," said a senior Delhi police officer, requesting anonymity.